The 2016 Critics' Choice Awards Film Nominations Reflect Some Much-Needed Diversity

The long road to the 89th Annual Academy Awards began this past Monday with the first official ceremony of the 2016 season, the Gotham Independent Film Awards, where Moonlight took home the top prize. But since that voting body strictly honors only the best in low-budget indie filmmaking, rather than the full spectrum of movies that will be up for Oscars this year, the Critics' Choice Awards film nominations, which were just announced on Thursday, are our first real look at how the Oscar race is shaping up. And by the look of things, it's going to be a refreshingly diverse year for Hollywood.

After two years in a row where zero of the 20 nominees in the Academy Awards' four acting categories were people of color — a phenomenon referred to by the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite — 2016 has seen a resurgence of minority representation in film. Thanks to titles like Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Loving, and Moonlight, non-white actors have entered the awards conversation for the first time since 2013, when 12 Years A Slave took home Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

In fact, of the 24 actors nominated for Critics' Choice Awards this year, seven (a full 30 percent) are people of color. Of course, that number could always benefit from being higher, but there isn't a single category without any minority representation — including Best Director, which features both Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Denzel Washington (Fences). The Best Supporting Actress category is the most diverse, with black women making up half of its six nominees: Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), and Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures).

Unsurprisingly, La La Land — the original musical from Whiplash writer/director Damien Chazelle, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling — earned the most nominations in total; it has been the early awards favorite ever since it premiered to rapturous reviews at the Venice Film Festival this past August. It raked in 12 nods, including Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay.

But Moonlight came in second (tied with Arrival with 10 nominations), an undeniably impressive feat for an indie film with a $5 million budget about a queer black boy growing up in the Miami projects. When it opened in October, Moonlight had the highest per-screen average box office of any movie this year. It's incredibly encouraging to see a film about such underrepresented subject matters connect so passionately with critics and general audiences alike. Hopefully the Academy will follow in the Critics' Choice Awards' footsteps and avoid an embarrassing three-peat of #OscarsSoWhite.

You can check out all the nominees in the major categories right here:

Best Picture

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell Or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Loving
  • Manchester By The Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Sully

Best Director

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
  • David Mackenzie, Hell Or High Water
  • Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Actor

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
  • Joel Edgerton, Loving
  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  • Tom Hanks, Sully
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Actress

  • Amy Adams, Arrival
  • Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Ruth Negga, Loving
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
  • Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges, Hell Or High Water
  • Ben Foster, Hell Or High Water
  • Lucas Hedges, Manchester By The Sea
  • Dev Patel, Lion
  • Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Best Supporting Actress

  • Viola Davis, Fences
  • Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women
  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman, Lion
  • Janelle Monáe, Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams, Manchester By The Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Arrival (Eric Heisserer)
  • Fences (August Wilson)
  • Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder)
  • Lion (Luke Davies)
  • Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)
  • Sully (Todd Komarnicki)

Best Original Screenplay

  • Hell Or High Water (Taylor Sheridan)
  • La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
  • The Lobster (Efthimis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos)
  • Loving (Jeff Nichols)
  • Manchester By The Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
  • Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)

Best Acting Ensemble

  • 20th Century Women
  • Fences
  • Hell Or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • Manchester By The Sea
  • Moonlight

Best Animated Feature

  • Finding Dory
  • Kubo And The Two Strings
  • Moana
  • The Red Turtle
  • Trolls
  • Zootopia

For the rest of the nominees — including Best Action Movie, Best Comedy, Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie, and all the technical categories — check out the full list of nominees here. Then tune in to the 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. ET on A&E, hosted by Silicon Valley's T.J. Miller, to find out who'll be taking home the trophies… and who will be another step down the road to Oscar glory.

Images: A24; Paramount Pictures